Yoga for Small Spaces

by Anastasia Yatras

There is yoga for weight loss. Yoga for dogs. Goat yoga. Sleep yoga. Yoga for anxiety. Yoga for men. Yoga for men wearing kilts. No doubt there is naked yoga. Maybe one day there will be yoga for yoga? On Thursday the 11th of October, in the second office of the South Coast Writers Centre, there was a yoga session.

Yoga for writers. In small spaces.

There were four participants. Ibeth, Yvette, Rike, Sandy and I. We stood in a space that was 3 metres square-ish. Two sides of the room were bookshelves, and there were two desks, grey plastic chairs, a suitcase for immediate travel and, just in case it all became too much, a plastic kettle sitting in the corner for a cup of tea.

It wasn’t as bad as it might sound. There was a small window with a view of green foliage, decorated with cutouts that were hand-shaped and brightly coloured. They were signed and stuck on the glass with Blu-Tac. Is your name there too? Perhaps next to Sharon Bird’s?

What is your first experience of yoga? Were you kicked out of yoga class for laughing at others who “looked funny breathing”? Someone in our group was. Can you guess who? Perhaps you don’t “do yoga” at all. Never did. Never will. Too many man buns, tattoos, green smoothies and Instagram poseurs. Some might say yoga nowadays isn’t “real yoga” at all.

The carpet was damp from a recent professional clean. Still very damp. We all skirted the very bad parts. Rike laid out sheets which may have been satin. On these, black SCWC T- shirts became important protectors in order to do yoga as it should be done. The lights were switched off. Students listened obediently to instructions, once they could assemble their arms and legs in such a manner that they didn’t disturb others’ arms and legs. Hands and feet and other parts which we don’t worry about so much, until they pain us.

It should have gone badly. Or at least, not very well. But it didn’t.

Despite the cramp and the damp, yoga was done. Through the simple sequence of basic standing poses, everyone became focused on their balance, on exactly where they stood on their feet … on the lengthening of their limbs. Sensations were felt. Areas of the body, such as the side waist, felt as if they were “on fire!” said Rike. All nodded in agreement. Perhaps yoga for office workers is not as innocuous as it sounds, and should be avoided.

Through tree pose, triangle pose and warrior pose, hips were coaxed to open.

“But writers do a lot of sitting! What poses are good for that?” The question broke out. Perhaps I hadn’t made it clear that in all honesty, many are—especially “shoulder openers” as they are termed. Back bends, too. And twists. Each and every pose contains within it a kernel of goodness.

In response, a simple twist was taught with a specific pattern of breath, done whilst sitting on a chair, to bring movement to the muscles of the back, shoulders and neck.

I knew there was more to explore. However, the allocated time was up. We completed the session with a reflective sequence of observing the breath and gradually lengthening the exhalation. We had, in that small office space, taken our intention and attention inwards—Tardis-like, to the vast recesses within each of us.

Now, that’s true yoga.

Thanks to the staff of SCWC and especially to Sandy who asked that very important question and authored the title ‘Yoga for Small Spaces’.

Written by SCWC

Posted on October 27, 2018